My ‘Arts Education’ is ruining me

“You can just tell when someone is from the Arts faculty,” a science student commented.

“What do you mean by that?”

“I don’t know. errrrr. I guess you guys are just very opinionated and think very differently?”


Context

Contemporary Singapore society, albeit gradual shifts in perspective, still value a Science/Math education over the Arts– entrenched by State emphasis on the sciences early on its in education reform. This could perhaps account for the number of perplexed faces I’ve witnessed as a result of my telling them that I’m pursuing a degree in arts. “Oh cool. So you can draw very well?” they would respond. Sure… let’s just go with that.  

But for those who actually do realise that I am generally referring to the Humanities and Social Sciences, usually respond with a curious amalgam of incredulity and scepticism. They can’t seem to rationalise the purpose of an Arts education vis-à-vis an actual career trajectory. Follow up questions, along the lines of “What are you planning to do after that?” usually ensue. The general implied consensus is that my degree is of little value– and by extension; my intellect.

Ironically, the Arts faculty is by far the largest in NUS, with an intake of around 1200 undergrads per year. Critics reconcile this paradox by subscribing to the perception that the faculty is a ‘dumping-ground’ for those who could not secure places in science-related faculties (subsuming a considerable population of undergrads, like me, who willingly chose the Arts). Alas, this perpetuates the notion that the Arts kids are just not ‘smart’ enough.

Now that I have established the context within which my education is being perceived by others –although I admit that these are my sole interpretation of general sentiments and are, thus, open to my bias/overstatements– I shall present a non-exhaustive list of reasons as to why my education is ‘ruining’ me.  Continue reading

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Community Award: One Lovely Blog

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I would like to sincerely thank charteblanche for nominating me for this blog award. I am really humbled, considering that I have been rather absent on this platform over the past month or so. And also thank you for brightening my day in such a gloomy and stressful period in my life.

Share 7 facts/or things about yourself.

  1. I am an immensely guarded person. This is also the reason why I appear to be highly unapproachable, often deflecting intrusions with humour and sarcasm. Very few people actually know the real ‘me’.
  2. I do not subscribe to labels –and especially dislike the human disposition for binary categorisations. I believe in fluidity.
  3. One of my greatest character flaws is that I can be domineering when working in groups (that hold my interest), which I find to be off-putting myself.
  4. My self-concept is misaligned with reality. How I want to portray myself does not line up with how I am in actuality. Therein lies the greatest contradiction I call ‘myself’.
  5. I love travelling. I have been planning my travels, without worrying about money or my future. Honestly though, I feel that such experiences are far more important than future financial security. Now the problem is,  I can’t seem to find a like-minded individual to go backpacking with.
  6. I like being alone, but I don’t fancy being lonely. I have been alone for a very long time, and that’s how I like it. But there is a very fine line between being alone and being lonely, which I seem to step on occasionally.
  7. “That which we manifest is before us.” –Garth Stein. While I do believe that we are products of our circumstances, I also believe in human agency.

 

I am supposed to nominate a few others for this award. But given my absenteeism, I think it would be rather unfair for me to do so.

The ‘Beneatha’ In Me

Something happened in literature tutorial today that I’ve been dying to pen down. The class was amidst a discussion on Lorraine Hansberry’s play, ‘A Raisin in The Sun’. My prof was being quite critical of the character ‘Beneatha’. He commented that while her ‘dream’ was nobel in some sense, as compared to her brother’s, it was quite self-serving. Whereas, Walter’s dream was essentially rooted to his family.

“Professor, I’ve got a question. Don’t you think that we are being too critical of Beneatha? I mean, she is still studying in college– so she’s quite young. And in that age, isn’t that normal? To waver between identities and ambitions?”

Prof goes on to poll the class on whom they agreed with; him or me. (He wasn’t being condescending; it was all in the name of intellectual discourse.) The results of the poll was pretty evenly split. So he asked a few people who agreed with him to respond with their viewpoint.

A girl, whose name slips my mind, spoke up. She remarked that Beneatha should be around our age– and that should translate into some form of maturity to consider her family’s needs rather than just her own. “Her dreams are quite selfish,” she said.

Prof surveys the class once again, “Who agrees that Beneatha is selfish.”

Majority of the class’ hands were raised; mine included.

“So you changed your mind?” he asked me.

“No. I agree that she is selfish. But shouldn’t that be expected of her? I feel like it is a phase that many of us go through, even at the university level. We are still in the process of building our self-concept, and it tends to be more selfish than not. So I was just wondering if we should hold it against Beneatha for thinking a little too much about herself.”

Continue reading

Woes of The Chivalrous Fighter

Jab. Cross. Uppercut. 

Shit! You got her in the boobs. Again.

“I’m sorry.”

*

Should I give her a push kick? Will she be able to take it?

Perhaps, I’ll just touch her lightly.

Push Kick.

Yikes, that was close! Almost got her in the nether region.

Seriously though, can I be done now?

**

I have been practising Muay Thai (Martial Arts) for close to 3 years now. Inevitably, I’ve had to spar with fighters of the opposite sex – the ladies (in case you were wondering). Whilst I’d like to think of myself as a chivalrous person, I have to confess that I unreservedly dread sparring with women.

I am probably exuding the misogynist vibe right about now. I’ll sort out this misconception in a bit, but first allow me to describe the 3 types of ladies I’ve (generally) met in the ring.  Continue reading

The 8th Cardinal Sin: Intolerance

The Daily Post would like me to add on to the list of the 7 Deadly Sins  — another trait or behaviour I find particularly unacceptable.

I initially deliberated between ‘ignorance’ and ‘bigotry’. Then I realised that ignorance doesn’t irrevocably carry a negative connotation – it might even be blissful in certain circumstances. And while I find bigotry to be entirely reprehensible, I wouldn’t want to impinge on the notion of one’s prerogative – you have the right to your opinion, no matter how ludicrous I find it to be. So, I settled for the bare minimum: ‘intolerance’.

What do I mean by bare minimum?

Essentially, you can be a bigot and be tolerant at the same time. I suppose you could refuse to accept alternative viewpoints without superimposing your beliefs unto others. Peaceful –yet divided– coexistence.  Continue reading

The NLB Saga and Censorship

Over the past week, the Singapore National Library Board (NLB) opened itself to public discourse over its decision to pulp three homosexuality-themed books.

  1. And Tango Makes Three – features a pair of male penguins who raise a chick together (based on a true story, fyi)
  2. The White Swan Express – features lesbian adoptive parents
  3. Who’s In My Family – features same-sex parents

These books were originally placed under the Children’s Section, as intended. After receiving a complaint over its propriety, the board reviewed these titles and decided to pulp them. Pulp as in ‘destroy’. Pulp as in ‘turn into marsh’.

WHAT THE FUCK KIND OF MESSAGE ARE YOU SENDING? Continue reading

Recrudescence, Romanticism and then Reality.

In the hopes of finding a suitable inspiration for this writing challenge, I revisited some of my writings from when I was fifteen. Needless to say, I cringed. But amongst the numerous humiliating pieces, I found one that conjured vivid memories and got me thinking.


We Don’t Get To Judge

28 September 2008 Continue reading